All About Classes

Classes are identified by (a) The department name, and (b) A course number. The first digit of the course number would roughly be correlated with the difficulty of the content, so a 1000 level class would have easier content than a 3000 level class. Undergrad classes go from 1000 to 4999, while graduate level classes take up the 5s, 6s, and so on. For example, CS1110 would refer to the intro class in CS, while MATH4130 would be a pretty advanced class in math.


Classes can be found on the Cornell Class Roster. When you look at a class, there may be a few terms foreign to you.

"When Offered"

Pretty self-explanatory, some classes are offered in both Fall and Spring, some only in Fall or Spring, some every other year in Fall/Spring. Take this into account if you’re passing up a rare class.

"Distribution Catergory"

Distribution requirements that this class fulfill, look at 6. Graduation requirements


Most classes will have 1-2 lecture slots, and either none or a few discussion slots. Usually, you pick one lecture slot and one discussion slot to enroll in.


University assigned GUIDELINES for class requirements. For example, a class like calc 2 will have calc 1 as its pre-req. Pre-reqs for a class should be taken before the class, co-reqs can be taken together with a class.


Take note that these are university guidelines, and vary in quality from class to class. Some pre-reqs make sense and should be followed (Calc1-calc2), but some just make no sense (E.g, Engineering Multi is a pre-req for Engineering LinAlg, but there is no calc at all in LinAlg).


For the most part, requirements are not enforced, and you can enroll in class without the requirements. Consult your seniors who have taken the courses, or your advisor when you get one.

“Combined with”:

Some classes are listed in multiple departments with the same name, E.g ECON2040 and CS2850. You can enroll in either class, but there might be some small difference regarding whether it can apply for some graduation/major requirements.


Consult a senior.


The difference between this and forbidden overlap is that “combined with” classes are the exact same class, but “forbidden overlap” classes are different classes that teach the same material

"Forbidden Overlaps"

Some classes teach very similar content, and you will not be given credit for taking 2 variants of the class.


Some classes have an honors variant, which is basically a harder version of the normal class. Example: CS2112 (Honors OOP&DataStruct) vs CS2110 (Normal version). These classes usually take a lot more time than regular classes, and award the same/1 more credit.


Class size is usually smaller, and content is typically taught much faster and in more depth. Take honors classes if you want to challenge yourself and learn more about something! Some honors classes are a lot harder than others.


If unsure whether you are able to cope, consult a senior/advisor

Grading and GPA

Cornell GPA is on a 4.3 scale. A is 4, B is 3, C is 2, D is 1. (+) adds 0.3 to the grade point, while (-) minuses 0.3. So an A+ is 4.3, and a B- is a 2.7. STEM classes tend to be graded on exams and homeworks, while Humanities classes tend to be graded on essays and papers.


The mean for most classes tend to be a B/B+. Getting A+ is very rare, and requires you to basically be the top 5% or less in the class. As such, when declaring your college GPA, you declare it out of 4, so ‘A’s are already considered perfect grades.


All courses give a number of credits. The minimum number of credits required to be a full-time student is 12/sem, and the maximum is usually around 22. A&S freshman will have a first semester cap of 18, until they show a decent GPA.


There are options to go underhours or overhours “overload”, that requires petitioning with your academic advisor after school starts.


Everyone has a freshmen adivisor as well as a major advisor when you declare it. They will be helpful with class selections and permissions to overload.

Tips for Picking Your Classes

Look through as many courses as possible from as many departments as possible to look for interesting classes to take. Planning classes to take for your major is a little more complicated due to timing issues of pre-reqs etc.

Useful tools:

  • Class Roster Scheduler: Plan your timetable
  • Get a sense of other students’ feedback of the class
  • CourseGrab: If you can’t manage to get the class you want, this notifies you when the class becomes open